Ranking the Boston Champions

There is no doubt the last 10 years have been the greatest 10 years of any sports town in history for Boston.  No other city comes remotely close to having 7 championships in ten years.  So where do I rank those 7 championships? Let’s have a look.

7) 2004 Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers

Tom Brady was a stud in this one as he threw for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns leading the Patriots to a 32-29 win over the Panthers.  Adam Vinatieri was the hero again as he hit a 41 yard field goal to with 4 seconds left to put the Patriots ahead for good.

Memorable Moments: Vinatieri’s game winning field goal; Vrabel’s 2 sacks and touchdown reception; 37 total fourth quarter points

6) 2005 Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles

The Patriots winning this Super Bowl cemented the theory that the Patriots were the 2000’s dynasty in the NFL.  Tom Brady started to draw comparisons to Joe Montana.  And perhaps best of all the Patriots beat loud mouth Terrell Owens.  The Patriots also became the first team since the Denver Broncos to win back to back Super Bowls.

Memorable Moments: Branch’s 11 receptions; Rodney Harrison flapping his arms like an eagle after his second interception; Another Vrabel TD reception

5) 2007 Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies

The Rockies were the hottest team in baseball going into the World Series in 2007 after winning 15 of their last 16 just to make it into the playoffs.  They then swept the division series and league series and were forced to wait as the Red Sox finished their series with the Indians.  This 2007 team was a lot different from the 2004 team as it was a team that was led by Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.  Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury arrived on the scene as well while old friends David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Curt Schilling were still doing their thing.

Memorable Moments: Pedroia’s home run off Francis; Sox come back from 3-1 deficit against Indians in ALCS; Papelbon’s Irish Jig

4) 2008 Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers

While I am more of a Celtics fan than I am a Bruins fan, this championship has to fall just below the Bruins.  The Celtics were able to stack their team by trading their roster away to acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.  Quite frankly, if the Celtics hadn’t of won the championship in 2008 I would have been incredibly disappointed.  But it was pretty sweet to embarrass the Lakers on their home court.  I was also very happy to see Paul Pierce win a title after all the years he put in with the Celtics.

There may not have been a more deserving athlete in Boston than Paul Pierce when he was finally able to raise that trophy high above his head.  Pierce had been in Boston his whole career and never publicly spoke out about how bad the team was or publicly complained.  Sure, he was mad when they stunk, but Pierce stayed quiet and he was rewarded when Danny Ainge got him a true supporting cast for the first time in his career.

Memorable Moments: Pierce in a wheelchair; Mike Breen:”And the Celtics are embarrassing the Lakers”; Ray Allen crossing over Vujacic

3) 2011 Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks

The Stanley Cup hadn’t been in Boston since 1972.  The Bruins were able to win in overtime of Game 7 against their archrival, the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round, sweep a Flyer team that came back from a 3-0 lead the year prior, and beat the Lightning in Game 7 on their home ice, before capturing the Stanley Cup in Game 7 in Vancouver.  They did it without their best player, Nathan Horton who was knocked into next week by Aaron Rome in Game 3.  They won it with perhaps the most dominating playoff performance ever by a goalie in 37 years young Tim Thomas.

During these playoffs, Zdeno Chara missed time with a dehydration illness, Nathan Horton missed time with his concussion, and they were down in the Montreal and Vancouver series but showed how resilient they were after a season of fans questioning the team’s heart.  These Bruins most certainly had heart.

Memorable Moments: Tim Thomas’ overall performance; Horton’s concussion; Recchi’s last game; Thornton the enforcer; Bergeron getting bit by Burrows

2) 2002 Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams

No one expected the Patriots to stay within 15 points of the Rams in 2002.  Hell, the argument could be made the Patriots weren’t even suppose to be there after Brady fumbl- I mean tucked the football in against the Raiders in the AFC Championship.But Bill Belichick pulled off his best coaching performance in his first Super Bowl win as he was able to slow down “The Greatest Show on Turf.”  The Patriots were able to completely neutralize Marshall Faulk and from there, rookie Tom Brady was able to manage the clock and not turn over the football enabling Adam Vinatieri to kick a game winning 48 yard field goal.  While Brady was named MVP, (16-27 for 145 yards) I will forever argue JR Redmond, Jermaine Wiggins, or the Patriot Defense was far more deserving of the honor than Brady.

The coolest part of this Super Bowl was Bill Belichick having his whole team introduced instead of individual introductions.  This set forth the value of unity amongst a team and started the trend that continues today of teams being introduced rather than individual players.

Memorable Moments: Vinatieri’s field goal; Patriots’ entrance; Madden suggesting Patriots run out clock; The final drive; Wiggins; Redmond; Troy Brown

1) 2004  Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals

It took 86 years for the Red Sox to win the World Series.  They suffered the dreaded Curse of the Bambino.  A stretch that saw Bucky bleepin’ Dent hit a lazy fly ball that landed in the netting of the Green Monster to win the division for the Yankees, they saw a routine ground ball trickle through the legs of Bill Buckner off the bat of Mookie Wilson to push the 1986 World Series to a seventh game, and they saw Aaron Boone hit a walk off home run in 2003 that sent the Yankees to the World Series.  The Red Sox didn’t only not win, they put their fan base through through the most painful of losses.

2004 was especially memorable because they were able to do what no other team in baseball had done before: Come back from a 3 games to 0 deficit to win the ALCS against, yes, the New York Yankees.

Memorable Moments: Roberts steals second; Schilling’s bloody sock; “Don’t let us win this one”; (Fully recognize all the memories are from the Yankee series but can you say you have any memories from the actual World Series?)

***A previous version of this post had Tim Thomas listed as 36 years young.  Thanks to a faithful reader for pointing out that he is 37 years young.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Bruins Play Role of Disciplinarian

The Vancouver Canucks decided to mock the NHL and the Bruins after Alexandre Burrows was not suspended for his blatant bite of Patrice Bergeron’s finger in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.  In Game 2 Maxim Lapierre taunted Bergeron by sticking his fingers in his face pissing off the well-respected Bergeron and pissing off the rest of the NHL in the process. Burrows scored the game winner in Game 2 and tallied another in a game that he shouldn’t have been playing in.  Bruins fans were anxious for Game Three being down 0-2.  But it was a familiar position.

Then the Canucks continued way past the line they so blatantly crossed when Aaron
Rome blindsided Nathan Horton at the blue line with an unnecessary and gutless hit that sent Nathan Horton to Mass General Hospital in the first period of Game Three.  This ignited the fire for the Bruins.

They scored 4 goals in the second period and another 4 in the third period en route to a 8-1 win on Monday night.  Yes, Tim Thomas had 40 saves but this game was won through the toughness and grittiness of the Big Bad Bruins.  The Bruins had 40 hits (including one from Tim Thomas, 75 penalty minutes, and killed off 8 power plays with the Canucks not getting a single shot on goal in any of the 8 power plays.

Old Man Mark Recchi was awesome tonight as well.  He had 2 goals but more importantly got in the face of Lapierre and other bush league Canucks players letting them know that the Bruins won’t stand for the chippy play.  Seeing a 43-year-old man get in the mix of things and not back down will surely fire up the squad.

The Bruins effort tonight can be personified by Brad Marchand’s dazzling short handed goal.  Words will do that play no justice.  All you have to know is that Marchand’s play was the epitome of hustle and simply just wanting it more than the other guy.

While the loss of Nathan Horton is and will be a tough one to swallow, the Bruins’ resolve is now strengthened.  All season long we have heard about how tightly knit this team is.  Do you think they want to let down the man who ensured they be playing in this game (twice remember, Canadiens Game 7 and Lightning Game 7)?

Tonight the Bruins played the roll of disciplinarian for the NHL.  Because with Colin Campbell unable to attend to his duties, the person replacing him has been asleep at the wheel.  The Bruins punished the Canucks for 40 minutes of hockey tonight.  Even though they are down 2-1, all the momentum is now with the B’s.  One has to believe that they have satisfied the should be punishment for the Bergeron incident.  Imagine what they are going to do for Horton!

The Bruins are three wins away from being Stanley Cup Champions.  There is no doubt in my mind that when this series is over, they will be hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup high above their heads.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

These Bruins are Playing for the Stanley Cup

Back on April 6, I wrote a post titled “These Bruins Won’t Go Far.”  In case you need further proof of that previous statement here it is: https://ntcf.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/these-bruins-wont-go-far/

Now it is May 31 and the Bruins will playing the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night in Vancouver in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  Clearly , I was wrong about the these Bruins right?  The fact is I wasn’t wrong.  The Bruins that are flying high right now are not the same Bruins that entered the 2011 playoffs. Through the first two games of the playoffs I was right as Montreal embarrassed the Bruins on their home ice.  My neighbor down the street was maybe the only one that was confident in the Bruins at that point.  He even told me that he was trademarking the phrase, “The Miracle in Montreal” for when the Bruins won the Cup.

At that point in time maybe he saw something no one else did.  Or he had a DeLorean and wasn’t telling anybody about it.  Everything I said in my post back on April 6, the Bruins answered.  I said that the Bruins would not be able to just rely on Tim Thomas and his supernatural abilities in net to carry them in the playoffs.  Thomas has no doubt been magnificent but he has also benefitted from stellar play from his defense led by Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg.  Andrew Ferrence has been an unsung hero of sorts. And the Bruins have been able to win in spite of Johnny Boychuk’s overall lackluster play.

On April 6,  I argued that the Bruins didn’t have the star power that was necessary to contend for the Cup.  Since that time Nathan Horton has emerged as a go to guy for the Spoked B.  As a matter of fact the Bruins are undefeated in the playoffs in games in which he has scored.  He netted both Game 7 winner’s for the Bruins as well.  My colleague on this blog, Tazzi, was adamant that the Bruins had arguably the best line in all of the NHL in Krejci-Lucic-Horton.  I didn’t believe him at the time, but he has proven me wrong.  The Bruins also received a memorable spark from 18-year-old Tyler Seguin in a game against Tampa Bay where he skated circles around the Lightning giving Bruins fans a glimpse of things to come for the next 15 years. How’s that for superstar talent?

I also criticized Claude Julien on April 6 (amongst other days) that he was stubborn and felt the need to play all four lines at all times.  In Game 7 of the Tampa series, Julien finally doubled up his top line after playing his fourth line late in Game 6.  While I still prefer the top lines play the most minutes, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly have given the Bruins outstanding minutes in time on the ice.  Peverley was the best Bruin on the ice in Game 7 as his energy and hustle created many opportunities for the B’s.

On April 6, I said that the only hardware coming back to Boston when the ice had melted would be the Vezina Trophy.  The Bruins have already proven me wrong by bringing home the Wales Trophy.  Now they are 4 wins away from bringing home Lord Stanley’s Cup.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

1-32 Never Felt So Good

I have harped on the Bruins throughout the playoffs for their awful power play.  But after tonight, the Bruins are one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals.  Somewhere they haven’t been in nearly 20 years.  When push comes to shove, I obviously care more about the final score than I do about the power play.  Because of the Bruins inspired play on 5-5 situations, they have a chance of securing a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning with the winner punching a ticket to compete or Lord Stanley’s Cup. In celebration of the power play goal here is a safe for work picture of Nathan Horton’s wife…and Nathan Horton.

Quick recap of Game 3: Boston 5 Philadelphia 1

The Bruins scored 2 goals in the first minute and three seconds of the game and never looked back.

Brian Boucher got the hook midway through the second period as the Bruins put their fourth tally on the board.

Zdeno Chara was excellent tonight.  2 goals, 1 assist, and a plus 4 rating.

Tim Thomas is in the zone.  Two nights after saving 52 shots he saved 37 tonight.

I have learned that this is team is not even close to last year’s team.  Tazzi was right about that 100%.  Last year the Bruins had Steve Begin and Daniel Paille on their first lines at this time.  This year they have a healthy David Krejci and Nathan Horton.  I’d say that’s an upgrade.

Expect to see Sergei Bobrovsky in net for the Flyers Friday night.  Not that I think he will make a difference.

The Bruins have a chance to sweep the Flyers on home ice Friday night.  Being down 2-0 to the Canadiens is ancient history.  This team is fired up, flying high, and have a killer instinct.  All qualities I had serious doubts about going into the playoffs.  As usual, I was wrong.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Bruins Find Twine Seven Times; Take Series Lead 1-0

The Boston Bruins rode a three goal second period en route to a 7-3 butt-whooping of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One in Philadelphia.  The Bruins got 2 goals apiece from David Krejci and Brad Marchand, and one each from Mark Recchi, Gregory Campbell, and Nathan Horton.  Tim Thomas made 31 saves preserving the victory for the Boston Bruins giving them the all important Game One win.

The first line, that was on milk cartons for much of the Montreal series, really showed up today.  Krejci had 2 goals and 2 assists, Horton had himself a goal and an assist, and Milan Lucic had a plus 3 with 4 hits.  The Bruins dominated the game from start to finish on Philadelphia’s home ice.  It was clear they enjoyed the more physical play that Philadelphia provides rather than Montreal.

The Bruins were able to expose the Flyers’ weakness knocking Brian Boucher out of net as the Flyers goalie problems continue.  As a Bruins fan it was a lot more enjoyable watching the Bruins fire away against Boucher rather than Carey Price.  If the Bruins can continue to pepper whoever the Flyers trot out to net, the series should be over rather quickly.  The Bruins must continue to apply as much pressure as possible much like they did today.

The problems with the power play have continued for the Bruins however.  The Bruins were 0-5 tonight on the power play prompting me to start with a series of “The last time the Bruins scored a playoff goal…”  Until they do score, I will have a quote on every power play.  This started in the third period of today’s game.  I invite you to join me in these quotes!

The last time the Bruins scored a power play goal women weren’t allowed to vote.

The last time the Bruins scored a power play goal the drinking age was 18.

There is apart of me that really wishes they Bruins could decline the penalty like in the NFL because they are playing better when its 5 on 5 out there.

I am cautiously optimistic with the Game 1 win over the Flyers.  It wasn’t long ago (1 year) that the Bruins got up 3-0 on this Flyer squad and lost the series.  That was the past.  The time is now.  The Bruins were able to finish their opportunities in Game 1 that they were unable to finish in the Montreal Series.

Let’s hope those trends continue.  And let’s hope for some power play goals!  Game 2 is Monday, 7:30 in Philadelphia.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Horton Snipes Canadiens: Bring on the Flyers

Going into overtime I wrote on my Facebook wall, “I remember this feeling.  It feels much like 2003 when Grady Little left Pedro Martinez on the mound.  It wasn’t a matter of if the Sox would lose, it’s a matter of when.” After Nathan Horton ripped the twine sending the Bruins to round two, beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-3, I dubbed myself the “King of the Reverse Jinx.”

The Bruins were flying high after Chris Kelly scored with 9 minutes left in the game putting the Bruins up 3-2.  What made his goal especially sweet, was that he scored because Roman Hamrilik flopped and laid on the ice for an extra 7 seconds instead of getting back in the play.  I was convinced the game was over at that point and karma had finally came back around and bit the Canadiens when it mattered most.  I thought it would have been poetic justice the Canadiens would be ousted after one of the patented flops.  As is usually the case, I was wrong.

Patrice Bergeron was called for high sticking James Wisnewski with just over 2 minutes left in the game.  The Canadiens took advantage.  Who else but PK Subban ripped a laser past Tim Thomas for the equalizer with 1:57 left to play in regulation.  At that point the demons of the past started filling my brain.  I started to think the Boston Bruins were now what the Boston Red Sox were from 1918 through 2003.  I was thinking of the Bruins losing last year after being up 3 games to nothing and 3-0 in Game 7 to the Flyers.  I was thinking of how they lost to the Hurricanes in Game 7 after being the best team in the NHL during the regular season.  I thought about how they lost to the Habs in Game 7 in 2008.  I thought about how Joe Thornton scored the game winner for San Jose two nights ago.

Then 5 minutes and 43 seconds into overtime Nathan Horton ripped a slap shot past Carey Price, that not only eliminated the Habs but exorcised the Boston Bruins Game 7 demons.  Past Bruins teams would have lost that game tonight.  Last year’s Bruins would have lost in regulation after Subban’s goal late in the third period.  Not these Bruins.  These Bruins have proven in this series that they are resilient.  They got down 2-0 in the series, went to a hostile environment in Montreal and promptly tied the series.  They have come back from 2 goal deficits.  Most importantly, they have won a Game 7.

Critics (including myself) have been looking for ways to bash the Bruins, whether it be the front office, the coaching, or the players themselves.  Well, the front office brought in the man who scored the game winner tonight while unloading arguably the worst player in hockey.  The front office brought in “The Man Behind the Cage” Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley who each played great in the opening round of the playoffs.  Like him or not, Claude Julien was able to light a fire under the players backsides when it mattered most leading the Bruins to the series win.  Lastly, the players themselves have shown up and played with unbridled passion.

Now it is on to Philadelphia where the Bruins will look to exorcise more demons.  Philadelphia is the team that won 4 straight against the B’s last season.  The Bruins haven’t gotten out of the second round since 1992.  Will this be the year?

Game One is Saturday at 3 in Philly.  Let’s go Bruins!

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

How Sweep It Is!

Believe it or not I actually do have a social life to attend to once in a great while.  Because of the social life, I was unable to post about the games over the weekend.  In case you missed it (and I doubt you did) here is a mini recap of the weekend.  And what a great weekend it was for Boston sports.

Celtics Bust Out Brooms in NY

In Game Three of the first round series between the Celtics and Knicks, the only competition on the court was between Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in who could hit the most three pointers and have the most points.  Pierce had 38 points hitting 6 of his 8 threes and Ray-Ray had 32 points hitting 8 of his eleven threes.  Rajon Rondo was able to run around the court at will and posted a triple double with 15 points 11 rebounds and 20 assists.

Game Four saw the Celtics lead throughout the game before putting on the finishing touches on a 101-89 victory being the only team in the NBA to sweep the first round this year.  Garnett led the way in Game 4 with 26 points and 10 rebounds.  If you missed either of these two games, you didn’t miss much as the Celtics dominated right from the opening tap to the final buzzer.

In hindsight this series ended when Chauncey Billups went down with a knee injury at the end of Game 1.  Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudimire never looked to be on the same page.  Toney Douglas was no match for Rajon Rondo.  Landry Fields laid perhaps the biggest egg in the history of postseason sports.  This was a guy that was a first team all rookie and he stunk the place up in all 4 games.  The Celtics will wait for the Heat to polish off the 76ers before starting round two.  The extra time off will provide the aging roster with some rest and also buy time for Shaq to get healthy.

Horton Hears a Who: Bruins Lead Series 3-2

Nathan Horton scored 11 minutes into the second overtime of Game 5 to put the Bruins one win away from advancing to the second round.  At this time last week, the idea of the Bruins making it out of the opening round was a joke.  But over the last three games they have played with heart and that is all you need to win in playoff hockey.  Michael Ryder continued his great play with the save of his career bailing out an out of position Tim Thomas in the first period of the game.

Speaking of Thomas, the man stood on his head in Game 5 with 44 saves.  Chief among those saves was a vintage Thomas move of sliding across the crease saving a one timer on a 2 on 1 break in overtime.  How he saved that puck, I have no idea.  All I know is the my heart was in my throat.  Radio personality Michael Felger has been asking when Tim Thomas was going to steal a game in the playoffs.  He got his answer with Thomas’ legendary effort in Game 5.

Lastly, how stupid is Max Pacioretty?  The man loves his Twitter account like no other.  This time he took to tweeting a derogatory remark about Brad Marchand’s nose.  Marchand responded by being the third star of the game and playing with as much energy and hustle as anyone could ask for.  Pacioretty has already promoted enough bulletin board material for the Bruins, and he just doesn’t seem to get the message.  There will be nothing better than the Bruins winning the series Tuesday night in Montreal in front of 28,000 screaming Canadien fans.

Sox Shut Down Angels

Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey both shut out the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend combing on 16 innings without giving up a run. The Sox now have a five game winning streak going and are showing everyone they are in fact who everyone thought they were going into the season.  In the last nine games, the starting rotation has an ERA of 0.88.

Carl Crawford also hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox and has shown signs of coming out of his season opening funk.  Once Crawford gets going, and he will, watch out.  The Red Sox will be unbeatable.  Mark my words. The Red Sox can keep their winning ways going as they will travel to Baltimore and open up a three game set on Tuesday.

All in all it was a great weekend in Boston sports.  Let’s hope the run extends into late June!

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF